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Friday, April 17, 2009

Citi to explore retail banking

The New Age

The US banking giant Citibank has planned to explore local retail banking to expand its area of services from present business and corporate banking.
Till date the bank is serving businesses, investors and industries, but retail banking would be a major service in near future.
The managing director and the country officer of Citi in Bangladesh, Mamun Rashid, said the retail banking option was under the review of higher authorities, who visited Dhaka recently.
He said Citi would also strengthen the existing services including capital market solutions and exploring other avenues of banking needs in the local market that were still untapped.
Mamun Rashid, who piloted the Citi in Bangladesh from a low-profile bank to one of the leading foreign banks, said ten years ago it was more likely for a cab driver to take you to a local bank with a different spelling, if you wanted to go to the Citibank’s local office in Dhaka.
‘Over the years the scenario has changed—now Citi is no more a strange name for most of us, and there is no confusion over the difference between the local bank and the global financial institution, though their names sound alike,’ he said.
Responding to a question on how such a transformation has occurred, Mamun, who joined the bank in 2001, said the very respectable brand value of the Citi was undermined in Bangladesh. ‘I utilised the value of this ‘global brand’ and successfully established it with my ‘world class’ colleagues.’
Citibank started its operations in Bangladesh in 1987, with the opening of a representative office and opened its first full-service branch in Dhaka in 1995. It now has four branches, one service outlet and three offshore banking units.
‘Citi provides a comprehensive range of financial services including treasury management, transaction services, foreign exchange and structured finance to corporate clients, governments and financial institutions’, Mamun said.
Partnering with few local banks, the bank also provides remittance services to the expatriate community all across the world and largely in the Middle East.
Giving a brief on the Citi’s business and structure in Bangladesh, Mamun said the bank made Tk 2.06 billion profit before tax last year with around 200 staff, of which 20 per cent are female.
‘Most importantly, all of our employees are local. The Citi in fact is the lone global bank in Bangladesh that runs its operation with hundred per cent local staff’.
The bank also value the diversity issue, he said and pointed out that some very important divisions of the bank were headed by female professionals.
Besides banking, Mamun has initiated options to engage the bank in the area of corporate social responsibilities. The bank now offers cooperation in financial education, information communication technology and most importantly micro-credit.
‘This role of the bank has made it well-known in the country,’ Mamun, said and gave a unique reference of sponsoring a Satkhira women to send her New York for her outstanding success in self-employment under micro-credit programme. ‘She was the first Bangladeshi women of her profile (who never travelled to Khulna, not to talk about Dhaka or outside) flew to the US to participated in a micro-credit conference’.
Also he referred to the bank’s involvement in financing country’s corporate houses including Grameen Phone, Brack, Lafarge Surma Cement, Khulna Power Company, Aktel, Sing Tel, AK Khan and Company and CityCell.
‘The bank will continue this kind of products and services to help grow business and industries in Bangladesh’, he said.



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